According to the European Federation of Allergy and Airway Diseases Patients Association (EFA), there are over 100 million asthma, allergy and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients in Europe today. Since their numbers continue to increase, there is an urgent need for new prevention and healing strategies. The FORALLVENT project has been set up to bridge the gap between these two goals.
The prevalence of asthma and allergies across Europe is very high, causing huge social problems and enormous medical costs. Current therapies may be effective in controlling symptoms in most patients, but no curative or preventive approach has yet been found. There is an urgent need for novel ideas in the field of allergic diseases prevention. To this end, the FORALLVENT project creates a platform for the development of strategies to bridge the gap between science and the practical application of its results.
Children with asthma have a lower standard of physical and social activities than healthy children. Individuals who develop occupational asthma are more likely to lose their jobs within five years of the start of symptoms. Families of children with allergies face a significant economic burden as specific infant and toddler diets are expensive and difficult to implement, and significant loss of school and working days occur. It becomes more and more obvious that allergic diseases have a considerable impact on health and quality of life - with consequential costs in Europe and globally.
The advancement of both personalised and preventive medicine based on genetic predisposition and drug treatments is necessary. But this goal can only be achieved through innovative research strategies. Public research laboratories and institutions of higher education must interact with enterprise-based research and other private bodies. European research efforts have to focus on the new prospects offered by multidisciplinary research. However, excellence in the science base is not enough; it is essential to have the capacity to translate knowledge into new products, processes and services, that in turn, generate benefits for society.
Most scientists in allergy research - be it clinical, epidemiological or basic science - have had little contact with people responsible for product development in SMEs or even large companies. As a result, awareness of those involved in food manufacturing and the creation of new food processing chains has been minimal. Furthermore, product developers and food manufacturers have not always been informed about new concepts and findings relating to the origins of allergic diseases. Cooperation between researchers, scientists and product developers is key to the emergence of new ideas and innovative approaches.
FORALLVENT exploits and synthesises knowledge from different disciplines and from experience gained in various experimental and epidemiological studies in Europe. The project enables an interdisciplinary expert group to brainstorm on the most promising innovative strategies for the development of novel preventive and therapeutic approaches. An existing birth cohort (a group of children followed prospectively from birth onwards) is maintained to evaluate the allergy protective substances by testing generated hypotheses in vitro and in vivo. Findings are disseminated to all stakeholders, including potential partners in industry, trade associations, interest groups, patient organisations, policymaking bodies, as well as the general public.
Overall, minimising the communication gap between science and industry has a tremendous impact on combating the allergy epidemic of our times.
List of Partners
- University of Munich (Germany)
- University of Basel (Switzerland)
- Children's Hospital Schwarzach-Salzburg (Austria) National Public Health Institute (Finland)
- University of Franche Comté (France)
- University of Ulm (Germany)
- Leiden University Medical Centre (The Netherlands)
- University of Natural Resources & Applied Life Sciences (Austria)
- Moorepark Food Research Centre (Ireland)
- Wroclaw Medical University (Poland)
- Ecos Communication (Switzerland)
- Full title:
- Forum for allergy prevention
- Contract n°:
- Erika von Mutius,
- EC Scientific Officer:
- Ana Nieto Nuez,
- EU contribution:
- € 671,000
- Specific Support Action